ST. JOHN'S, Nov. 5, 2018 /CNW/ - Memorial University Medical Students – future healthcare providers – engaged with community stakeholders and experienced a powerful conversation with a person who struggled with opioid use during the inaugural Opioid Awareness and Support Team (OAST) Education Day. The event created an opportunity for an honest dialogue about the current landscape of the opioid crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Matthew Downer, a second-year medical student, is leading OAST alongside a team of students and supportive faculty members. He is driven by the understanding that although the opioid crisis can be felt nationally, it may take form in different ways across Canada. The province of NL has, although growing, one of the lowest rates of opioid overdose deaths, but the highest rate of opioid prescriptions in Canada. Downer highlights that it is essential healthcare practitioners engage with and understand their communities to provide the best care possible and promote harm reduction.
OAST members plan to continue their work, raising awareness about opioid use and harm reduction. They started with their campus, offering their classmates and residence advisors tools to raise awareness, and now they are turning to their community and offering workshops with Choices for Youth, a local organization that supports at-risk youth, Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's, and the local Safe Works Access Program (SWAP).
Fulbright Canada and the U.S. Embassy Ottawa was pleased to support this initiative through an alumni grant program, the Community Leadership Program, which awards former Fulbright Canada alumni with funding to tackle challenges and engage in their communities. Downer highlighted that he first came across issues surrounding the regional nuances of the opioid crisis during his exchange to the U.S. He was determined to seek out more information about how his community is impacted upon his return home. Funding for this project was awarded to Matthew Downer (OAST project leader), Josh Lehr, and Caitlin Salvino.
About Fulbright Canada
Fulbright Canada is a bi-national, treaty-based, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization with a mandate to identify the best and brightest minds in both countries and engage them in international and residential academic exchange. Fulbright Canada is firmly committed to community development, to diversity, and to the development of mutual understanding.
SOURCE Fulbright Canada
For further information: Alanna Blackie DeMos, [email protected] / 613-688-5514, Coordinator - Public Affairs and Alumni Relations; For further information about OAST, please contact: Matthew Downer, [email protected]